Gold Cup hero in Aintree tragedy
Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Synchronised suffered a fatal injury in the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree.
The Jonjo O'Neill-trained gelding was given a superb ride by multiple champion jockey Tony McCoy to win the blue riband at Prestbury Park last month, and was bidding to become the first horse to complete the double in the same year since the legendary Golden Miller in 1934.
McCoy was unshipped by the nine-year-old before the start, with Synchronised running loose before being caught. His race was not to last long as he made it only as far as Becher's Brook, the sixth fence, running on riderless afterwards. It was revealed shortly after the race that he had lost his life. McCoy gave up his one remaining ride.
There was a second fatality in the race, with the Malcolm Jefferson-trained According To Pete, who was brought down at Becher's on the second circuit, also put down.
Aintree managing director Julian Thick said: "We are desperately sad at these two accidents and our sympathies are with the connections of both horses. When a horse gets hurt, everyone is deeply upset.
"Safety is the first priority for the organisers of the Grand National and we make every effort to ensure that everyone involved in the event is able to participate in safety. Horseracing is a sport that is very carefully regulated and monitored by the British Horseracing Authority, but risk can never be completely removed.
"All horses and riders in the Grand National have to meet very high standards set by an independent panel of experts. The Grand National is a professional and well-organised race. Only the best horses and the best jockeys are allowed to enter.
"Since last year's race we have made further significant chances to the course and there have been four races run over the course without serious incident since then. After today we will, as always, be looking at all aspects of this year's race to see how we can improve safety further.
"We work closely with animal welfare organisations, such as the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare, to make sure we are up to date with the latest thinking and research regarding welfare and safety."
Professor Tim Morris, Director of Equine Science and Welfare for the British Horseracing Authority, added: "We are very sad about the fatal injuries suffered by Synchronised and According to Pete in the Grand National. In both cases the horse incurred a fracture to the leg and the humane option was to put the injured horses down."